Why is this happening? Thoughts on faith, miscarriage, and the meaning of suffering.

I've read each and every one of your comments and messages at least twice. Thank you sincerely for all your words of sympathy and support. They have brought a lot of light into the past few darks days.

Through our journey with infertility I have come face-to-face with the reality that being a Christian doesn't protect you from pain. I wish it did. Since we transferred our embryos just a few weeks ago I have prayed with particular intensity that God would spare me the pain of loss. I've called upon him as a Father who loves and cherished his daughter, asking him to look into my broken heart and see how fragile it has become. To agree with me that it's been beat up enough already. To spare me another agonizing blow. To protect me. To let me heal.

When I found out I was pregnant I thought finally. Finally! Finally God had seen me, bruised and vulnerable and stepped in to stop the fist of infertility from dealing another blow. Finally he had come to rescue me, to lift me up and set me on my feet again. To restore me.

For two weeks between the news of my pregnancy and my ultrasound, I fought fiercely against the fear that I would lose my baby. After so many years of negative pregnancy tests, I could not imagine anything more devastating than to miscarry this child I had longed for. Each day I worked to push the fear out of my mind and choose to relish the joy of my pregnancy: to hope, to imagine, to dream. I prayed life over the child growing inside me.

Now I know that somewhere in the middle of all those prayers for life, my baby died. Just stopped growing and withered away. The thing I feared the most happened. God did not spare me the grief of loss.

I knew there was no baby inside almost as soon as my ultrasound began on Friday. I saw a black screen where I knew a white little blob should have been. I lay silently on my back and my doctor's concerned, "Hmmm..." knocked all the hope right out of me.

"I don't see anything."

All I could muster was, "Oh no."

"Yea. I should see something by now."

The doctor stopped the ultrasound and I sat up on the table as John listened to instructions about what we had to do next. I fought back tears. Our doctor left and I got dressed, numbly. As John and I walked through the hallway to the exit a nurse caught my eye with a smile and asked, "How did it go??"

I shook my head and whispered hoarsely, "Not good."

She took me into her arms and held me close, whispering, "I'm so sorry."

I cried.

When I first wrote this post, I wrote these words: "I don't know why God allows his children to bear the brunt of such excruciating blows. I don't know why he doesn't step in to stop them." Just as soon as I wrote them, I realized that actually God did step in to bear the brunt of our pain. That's exactly what he did on the cross. He became human just so he could put his physical body between us and all the wrath we deserve. Most of the reason why suffering makes me so angry at God is because I don't think I deserve it. I love the way the Bible reframes suffering:

First of all, I did deserve to suffer. Simply put, I am a sinner. I am prone to do the wrong thing, go the wrong way, make the wrong decision. I am prone to put myself before others. Prone to shake my first at God. Prone to think I know best.

For that, I deserve to suffer.

But, God. <---- the most beautiful two words in the Christian faith.

I deserve to suffer, deserve to be punished. But God was not willing to go there. Not willing to let me know the full weight of my sin. Instead, he stepped down from heaven and bore my punishment for me. He bore the weight of all my sin and shame when he died on the cross. He said, "Spare her. Take me instead."

That's what I believe as a Christian. That I am sinful. That I deserved to be punished. But that God became a man named Jesus and took my shame instead.

This is redemption. When I repented of my sin and accepted the gift of Christ's death for me, I was redeemed. Someday (and how I wish it would be someday soon!) at exactly the right time God will redeem the whole earth and no one will suffer any more. But until then, I live in a strange "in between." I live as a redeemed person in an unredeemed world. Living in an unredeemed world means I will still know suffering.

The difference is that I know my suffering is not a punishment anymore. Along with so many other women I can ask myself am I infertile because I did something wrong? Would I be a bad mother? Am I being punished? And the answer is absolutely and unequivocally NO! I know my infertility is not a punishment because Jesus already took all the punishment for me. There is none left.

Instead, the Bible invites me to look at my suffering in a different way: to glory in my suffering.

Romans 5:3-4, "...we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope."

The Bible also tells me that my suffering is not meaningless. I cannot know the reasons why God has allowed me to endure this loss, but I do trust that he will use my suffering for good. 

Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." 

And finally, I know that my suffering will not last forever. 

1 Peter 5:9-11 (The Message), "You're not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It's the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won't last forever. It won't be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ- eternal and glorious plans they are!- will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does." 

These are the truths I am holding onto as I grieve the loss of our baby. I keep a firm grip on my faith as I take down the snowflake banner we used to announce our embryo adoption; it has been hanging in our dining room window since the summer. 

I keep a firm grip on my faith as I watch the bruises on my body from all my Lovenox and progesterone shots fade away. Marks in which I took such pride only a few days ago; battle marks from a war against infertility I thought I had finally won. 

I keep a firm grip on my faith as I revision my future with sadness. A summer I pictured enjoying with a growing belly. A guest room I had already painted and turned into a nursery in my mind. Thanksgiving and Christmas with a new baby in my arms. It's all gone. With faith I trust these months will unfold with a grace I cannot imagine. 

With faith I will continue to ask God for the desire of my heart. Even in this sorrow I do see reason to hope. The fact that I got pregnant is a very good sign. My body knew what to do! The fact that we lost our baby so early is very likely due to something going wrong with the embryo: some genetic factor or random mutation that caused him or her to stop growing. We won't have our next consultation with Dr. Colbert until mid-April but after my own research and a conversation with an IVF nurse I feel pretty confidant that we can still achieve pregnancy. We have a full month to think and pray about how we should move forward, but both John and I feel pretty certain that this is not the end of the road for us. We have some questions and obstacles in our way, but we also have a God for whom we know nothing is impossible. We trust he will lead us on this journey as he always has. 

Thank you again for all your support and for your countless prayers lifted on our behalf. I do not have the words to express how much they mean to us! You lift us up. 



  1. I remember two summers ago as I dealt with the double loss of our embryos and an early miscarriage at the same time- our church was going through Habakkuk(what a book to study during suffering) and I distinctly remember a moment during our congregations prayer time when someone asked, "why would God let suffering happen to me?" And my pastor said "I don't know why, but I can tell you that he didn't spare his own son from it" He knows out hurts. The Father lost a child too and he knows the pain of that great, searing loss. He holds you and he holds your babies. At that point in my life, it helped me to know that God knew my exact pain and hurt because I couldn't make any sense of it.

    I'm so sorry for your great losses, Jill. I really am praying for you all of the time because your heart and story has so deeply been intwined with my own. I weep for you but also look forward with great hope for your future in the "in between"

  2. You have a faith that I cannot understand. You may not feel strong, but you are. You may not feel bold, but these words were a bold declaration.You have chosen trust. I can only imagine how God is beaming with pride as you stand firm in Christ despite unbearable, unthinkable grief. I’m in awe.

    I’ve been praying for you. And I’ve been silently following your blog for over a year. (And oh that sounds creepy now that I’ve typed it!)

    I read that you were pregnant and I rejoiced. I thanked God for his goodness. I heard about your loss and I cried. My heart fell heavy. I prayed for you.

    And I am just a reader, but I have prayed for you and I will not stop praying. I will pray and pray and not stop until you have a pregnancy that ends with a baby in your arms. A baby that you birth, a baby you will nurse. I believe it for you. You may not always have strength to believe it yourself but I will pray that you are surrounded by friends and family who will believe this and claim this and pray for this even when you can’t. I think in times of trial you can’t have too many people believing FOR you.

    Keeping your family in my prayers,
    Andrea Enright

  3. Thank you for sharing your heart. I've been in that same place of questioning and brokenness. I am eager to see how the rest of your story unfolds!

  4. Jill,
    Erin and I so admire you and John's resiliency and hope in the midst of suffering. Even in these dark circumstances, you both lead every person who knows you towards Jesus. We are praying for you both and we love you guys!

  5. Anonymous3/15/2015

    Your testimony is beautiful, Jill. God is bringing new life through you, even though it isn't a newborn right now, as we would like. But you are bearing life to those around you. Your example of submission to God & death to self is amazing. Crystal

  6. There is so much truth in what you write. I am always encouraged by what you write and humbled. I also struggle with infertility and have waited years for an adoption. I hope for what you hope and have cried tears for your loss as I hoped along with you. May God bless you abundantly.

  7. Anonymous3/15/2015

    Dear Jill, I'm so sorry for your loss. The pain of miscarriage is very real and my heart pains from you. But the good news is your body created life biggest miracle! You made a baby and it is possible. It might be hard to see now as you grieve for your child but it can happen. Maybe god planted a seed of hope in you to let you know ... It can happen keep trying

  8. Thank you so much for your vulnerability and honesty...and mostly for CHOOSING faith, for choosing to trust God and turn to His Words to guide you, and for choosing to use this anguish as an opportunity to bring Him glory. There are many, I am certain, who will read this post amid their own pain and doubt (myself included), and you have set an incredible example of how to respond to pain and difficulty. I pray for God to bless you with another pregnancy very soon, but know that in the meantime He is using you for so much GOOD.

  9. I read a quote yesterday from Charles Spurgeon. "I have learned to kiss the waves that throw me against the Rock of Ages". I was so moved by that quote that I did some research and found this article. http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/kissing-the-wave
    Lifting you up as you rejoice in your suffering in the arms of our Father.

  10. Your faith is a great encouragement to us all! I know that you would rather not have to be bearing the brunt of this difficult circumstance, but God is using you for His glory and His purpose and in that *I* find hope!

  11. I've been following your blog since your adoption of Arie. You are such a beautiful writer and amazing woman of faith. I am so impressed by you. I've been praying for you specifically. I'm so sorry for your miscarriage.
    I, too have seen the empty ultrasound screen before, and it is devistating. Thank you for sharing your words of faith.

  12. While I have not experienced the pain of loss after infertility, I have gone through 3 early miscarriages myself and I know the complete soul crushing pain that comes from hearing that your baby has died. You are heavy on my heart this week and I have been thinking of you and John as you go through this. I admire your strength as you face this and your words are so beautifully written from the heart. Thank you for being open and honest with us Jillian, you are an inspiration to many.

  13. Oh how your words resonate with me. I don't know the suffering that comes from miscarriage, but I know so well what it is to long—to ache—with all of your being to be able to grow the miracle of life within. My family has a history of Huntington's Disease. When we were ready to start our family 5 years ago, we had me tested—you know, just in case. Just to check that box as done and dealt with. Nothing could have prepared us to learn that I, too, carry the gene for HD—a gene that will one day cause my motor skills to fail and my body to crumble. We decided, in our grief, that we would adopt a sweet little one instead. We've been trying to do just that for more than 4 years now. We actually brought home a foster son from the hospital—the social worker telling us he was as good as ours—only to learn after 6 months that his family wanted him back. Through all of this, not a day goes by that I don't grieve the loss of carrying a child within me. I too am driven to the feet of Jesus, probably the very best place any of us can be. And He has faithfully shown me each and every day that He loves me, and, as you so beautifully shared, He has already taken the punishment for me. Praying for you sweet sister—that you would know His peace. And praying still that He would grant you the desires of your heart.

  14. Lisa Garvelink3/17/2015

    My heart aches for you, Jill. Thank you so much for sharing so beautifully your struggle as you walk by faith and continue to grow in your faith. I will continue to pray that soon you will have another outcome to share as your beautiful family increases.
    Much love.

  15. Jill, I'm so, so sorry for your loss. We've struggled for years with getting pregnant, but our only loss was very early with embryos that didn't make it to transfer. I just can't imagine. But your testimony to the grace of God even through tragedy is amazing. I will be praying for you, because I'm sure it's a moment-by-moment struggle to hold fast to the truth that God IS good even when you're hurting. That He would be your constant comfort as you both grieve and honor the short life of this child. And that your next transfer would be successful and result in a take-home baby!

  16. Jill, I am so very sorry for your loss. May the Holy Spirit comfort you and bring you peace in the midst of suffering, and may you know His leading as you and your husband look to the future. Thank you for your bravery in sharing your journey and for how you honor God with the way you share. In Him, Jeannine


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